Our Family’s Favorite Holiday Appetizer

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A long time ago – another lifetime it seems – I was young and single, living in New York City. More often than not, weeknights were spent at after-work happy hours with colleagues and friends. We were in no rush to get home right away and could enjoy leisurely cocktails, bites, and conversation. Downtown, there was this dark and rustic little Spanish tapas place we used to go to, and I still remember the first time we ordered their bacon-wrapped dates. We must’ve ordered five plates of them that first night. 

They were SO good. So good that I started making them at home when friends came over for drinks, and my family started incorporating them into our holiday cooking. 15+ years later, this appetizer is still on heavy rotation and often requested.

If you’re looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing holiday appetizer – I mean 3 ingredients easy – give this one a try. This recipe is very adaptable and forgivable (burnt bacon is still bacon!). The amounts listed below are for a crowd; make as many or as few as you need by altering the quantities:

1lb. Medjool dates (pitted, if you can find them, but if not, you can pit them yourself, which is what I usually do)
12-16oz. of bacon (any kind you like)
5oz. goat cheese (we’ve also substituted Marcona almonds for the cheese if in need of a dairy-free option)

  • First, pit the dates (if using unpitted dates).
  • Using clean fingers or a small spoon, fill each date with a small amount of goat cheese (try not to have any spilling out) and pinch the date closed. 
  • Cut each bacon strip into three pieces. Wrap one piece around a goat cheese stuffed date and secure with a toothpick. 
  • Place the dates on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your bacon, you may need more or less time in the oven. Just keep an eye on them and cook them until the bacon is to your liking.
  • Plate while still warm and watch them disappear.

What is your family’s favorite holiday appetizer? 

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